A few weeks ago Fred and I attended the Circular Summit in Washington, DC. It was a day spent listening to one amazing woman after another, offering opinions, guidance, and advice on all sorts of different topics related to entrepreneurship. One presenter posed a question that I have been thinking about ever since.
WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE? WHAT IS YOUR PASSION? AND DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?
As I listened and pondered how those questions applied to my own life and career, I thought about the presenter’s answer. She proposed that your purpose is your “North Star,” your guiding principle or motivation. Your passion is the fuel you use to get there. I think that is a pretty accurate description, although there is a little more to it. I would argue that they both need to feed off of each other if you want to achieve long-term success.
Let me explain what I mean. Yes, you definitely have to have a purpose, the big picture vision of where you want to go. But the passion is almost more important for the day-to-day running of a business, because that’s what keeps you going. If you have a purpose without the passion, sooner rather than later you will run out of gas. You’ll get bored or distracted or your motivation will disappear. Suddenly, a challenge that isn’t that big a deal will feel insurmountable.
I recently met a woman in this exact situation. She had started a business a number of years ago based on a need she saw at her kids’ school. She thought the service she was providing was valuable and important. She had a clear North Star. But she didn’t have the passion. When her kids got older, she lost interest in the service her business provided. It wasn’t that her services were suddenly worthless or unimportant, but they weren’t important to her anymore. This business was not her end-all be-all and, after 10 years, she has realized that she just doesn’t have the passion to keep it going. So she is walking away. And that is okay.
Who wants to spend their days busting their butts in a business they don’t feel passionate about?
So here’s my question for you. Do you agree? Can you have a successful business long term without the purpose or the passion? Do you have those for your business? If your answer is no, what are you going to do about it?